Heavenly Angelica

The dishes in the new establishment at Jerusalem's Montefiore Hotel made our taste buds happy.

meat and egg 88 (photo credit: )
meat and egg 88
(photo credit: )
I like to have dinner early. Lucky for me, I've a regular dining partner who does as well. So, we were the first to arrive at Angelica, just around 7 p.m. Barely three months old, the establishment is located at the Montefiore Hotel in Jerusalem's city center. Clad in a pale blue shirt, sports jacket and no tie whatsoever, my dining partner and I were greeted by Angelica's hostess, Rachel. From there we were seated and met our server, Na'ama. Before long the owner, Marcus, came over to express his great delight that we were to dine in his restaurant. The evening, I'll say here, was a delight. We were well attended to the whole evening. And, on a note that gave me great pleasure, the music changed to classical Spanish guitar at the moment we began to eat. Attention to detail is always a great indicator of an experience to come. Marcus brought us a bottle of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Katlav Winery. Despite my not being a decided lover of wine, I really enjoyed this red. It nicely complemented the warm bread and antipasti of roasted peppers, grilled onions, zucchini and beets. Each vegetable had been prepared differently with the appropriate herbs and delicate spices. Quite knowledgeable of the menu, Na'ama brought us five different appetizers to sample. As the first dish arrived, so did the other guests. This round of first courses included a salmon sashimi, beef tartar with quail egg and purslane, a gazpacho (which had a great bite) and the catch of the day (bass). Each dish was presented with style. The mix of tastes was, in short, delicious. The fifth serving, beef ravioli, was slightly problematic, served in a bouillabaisse far too saline for our tastes. Though, perhaps this is a result of us both having grown up in families that obsessively monitored salt intake. But, as the Russian saying goes, it was probably because the sous chef was in love. Chef Erez Mergi took some time away from his busy kitchen (hungry guests were found seated at most tables) to talk with us about his other culinary ventures. He had worked at Rafael in Tel Aviv and Canela and the Buffalo Steakhouse in Jerusalem. His menu is still in effect at the latter, one of our local favorites. Always the concerned chef, Mergi moved on to visit with his other diners, many of whom, we were informed, were returning customers - an impressive fete for such a new restaurant. We moved on to the main dishes, which numbered three: a flavorful shoulder of lamb with a barberry and herbed bulgur with roasted garlic accompaniment, the fish of the day (from the grouper family) and saving the end for last, a tender rump steak. They all made our taste buds happy. Taking a short break from all the food, I overheard one of servers speaking Russian. The hostess informed me that the wait staff are all polyglots, speaking at least five languages. The menus are written in Hebrew and English but are also available in French and Spanish upon request. After the savory, we were well satiated but still didn't refuse the sweet when offered. The pear torte was a tad dry but the creamy sorbet was perfect. The food served was not what one would normally prepare at home - howsoever Angelica's feel is comfortable and homey. This provides all the more reason to dine out, a definite plus in my book. Angelica is located at 7 Schatz St., (02) 623-0056. It is open Sun-Thu 6-11 p.m. Sat 7:30-11 p.m. It is a member of Tav Chevrati and kosher.